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Steelers RB Najee Harris 'disappointed' team declined option

Wed Jul 24 5:03pm ET
Field Level Media

When the Pittsburgh Steelers declined the fifth-year option on his rookie contract in May, running back Najee Harris wasn't pleased, but the feeling didn't last long.

"I was disappointed for a minute, but it's nothing really where me sitting around being disappointed for too long will do anything to help me out," Harris said Wednesday in his first interview with reporters since the organization's decision in the spring.

"I think that it is what it is," he said as the Steelers opened training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. "You've got to keep pushing, and knowing that coming out here and doing what's best for the team and having a good year is what's most important right now."

Harris, 26, added that after a couple of days, his mind moved on to other things. He noted that the Steelers said part of their thinking for declining the $6.79 million option was "they didn't know which direction the offense is headed."

Arthur Smith, most recently the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons for three seasons and previously the designer of the run-heavy Tennessee Titans attack as offensive coordinator, was hired in February as the Steelers' OC. Pittsburgh fired Matt Canada from that role during last season as the offense struggled.

Since the Steelers selected him in the first round (24th overall) out of Alabama in the 2021 NFL Draft, Harris has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons for 3,269 total. He's done so on 834 career attempts, for an average of 3.9 yards per carry.

He has tallied 22 rushing touchdowns and six receiving scores in 51 games, all starts.

Harris, who would become a free agent after the season, said it's all part of the business of the NFL and not additional incentive.

"I don't need somebody to tell me what I can and can't do," he said. "That doesn't motivate me or anything. I've already had my motivation since I was a kid. It's nothing new to me. I've been in this spotlight and this position pretty much all my life, ever since I was a kid. This is nothing new, just more cameras and interviews and questions."

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